First-time travelers to Tuscany are typically initially surprised by the simplicity of authentic Italian cuisine.
-The food culture in Tuscany is well known for it’s simple yet delicious cold-cut dishes, says Matteo from Tuscany Tours.
Unlike American fare, where layers upon layers of flavors make a meal, the most popular Italian dishes served in Tuscany are simple. That’s done purposefully, to highlight the flavors of the real ingredients. You’d be hard-pressed to find a super processed meal at any of the locally owned and operated restaurants.
Just like Italian food in general, Tuscan cuisine is based on using the freshest, most simple ingredients that are currently in season. According to Discover Tuscany, chefs also make good use of cheeses and legumes to create dishes out of what they are able to find locally. But despite its simple construction, a Tuscan meal is full of flavor and undoubtedly filling. Typically, each meal is served with bread meant to soak up all the leftover juices on your plate.
For some of the most popular dishes made fresh in Tuscany, you’ll want to stick to local places. If you see any of the following items on one of their menus, don’t think twice. Do yourself a huge favor and order it right away!
Panzanella is a Tuscan salad most popular in the summer. It’s made with pieces of soaked stale bread and tomatoes with olive oil and vinegar. It will sometimes include basil and onions. While many restaurants will put their own spin on panzanella by adding additional ingredients, you’ll want to enjoy the dish as it was meant to be, served by the people who first created it.
Italians love their soups, that’s no secret. According to Walks of Italy, ribollita is a vegetable and bread soup and one of the most popular dishes in Tuscany. It’s a classic comfort food that typically contains beans, cabbage, carrots, and onions and like most soups, it tastes best when made fresh in the winter months.
Pappa al Pomodoro
The Tuscan region is known for its creative uses of stale bread. To many people, that may not exactly sound appetizing, but if anyone knows how to put together an incredibly flavorful dish, it’s the Italians. Pappa al Pomodoro is a relatively simple dish made from stale bread and tomatoes with the addition of basil, garlic, and olive oil. The thick soup is usually topped with some sort of cheese-stuffed vegetable.
Pici Cacio e Pepe
You can’t talk about Italy without mentioning pasta. Pici are thick pasta hand-rolled into the shape of fat spaghetti. Cacio e Pepe means cheese and pepper but what makes this dish unique to Tuscany is the use of pecorino toscano cheese and pasta made right there in the region. You won’t find a better, more fresh pasta dish anywhere else!
There are many incredible reasons to visit Tuscany, but the food will certainly stay at the top of the list. There’s truly no where else in the world putting fresh, local ingredients to use the way the Italians do.